Feb 172021

Thanks to Ian Stuart Baird.

Residents in Torry, Aberdeen opposed to the possibility of St. Fittick’s Park being lost to development, have stepped up their activities by launching a website and announcing a photo competition to increase awareness of the threat to the precious green space at the heart of their community.

After the publication of the Proposed Local Development Plan (2022) in March and neighbour notifications had dropped through letterboxes in June, shocked residents realised the catastrophic potential of the proposed changes in the LDP.

A small informal group meeting on Zoom and Facebook realised that the fight for the park would be a long one. The group would need to become bigger, open to all and representing all views, so a steering committee – Friends of St Fittick’s – was formed.

The stated mission of the Friends of St Fittick’s Park  is to:

focus on ensuring the survival of St Fittick’s Park, and improve the engagement and experience the local people have with this fantastic natural space’.

Local people have been angered by the rezoning of the Green Space to an opportunity site (OP56) in the Local Development Plan where development as one of the sites in the Energy Transition Zone adjacent to Aberdeen South Harbour would be favoured.

A similar rezoning would apply to Doonies Farm, another valuable local resource.

They are worried that even more land might be threatened as the ETZ’s Feasibility Study identifies the southern section of Balnagask golf course as another potential ETZ site and the northern one as part of a proposed Energy Coast all round the Bay of Nigg.

Announcing the launch group member David Hunter said:

“This proposal is a slap in the face for the people of Torry. Aberdeen South Harbour has already deprived us of the Bay of Nigg but residents were promised that St. Fittick’s Park would be preserved.

“We support the concept of energy transition but destroying a complex wetland ecosystem and a green space which is at the heart of the local community is certainly not the way to go about it.”

As well as mitigating climate change as a carbon sink and a flood plain, St. Fittick’s Park provides the community with educational opportunities, a buffer between housing and the South Harbour, and benefits its physical and mental health.

By highlighting these current diverse roles and imagining future improved and new ones, the group, through its web site and with community engagement, is encouraging both locals and those in the wider Aberdeen community to realise what an enormous asset we have, and to do everything possible to protect and improve it.

A photo competition has been launched both to encourage more people to visit the park, and for the photos to capture the threatened essence of the space and share with others.

Prizes totalling £100 will be awarded, the entries later published on the website and, Covid-19 permitting, displayed in a public space.  Full details are on the website.

The Friends of St. Fittick’s Park are encouraging people to join the group and support them by raising awareness, letter-writing, fund-raising and generally helping to protect the Park now and in the future.

Sep 282017

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Jasmine Ltd.

A team of Methlick superheroes tested their metal on an inflatable obstacle course and raised a four-figure sum for a north-east cancer charity.

The ‘Methlick Marvels’ raised more than £1,000 for Friends of ANCHOR by taking part in the charity’s ANCHOR Wipeout event which was held in Aberdeen’s Hazlehead Park in August.

ANCHOR Wipeout, which is in its fifth year, is a key fundraising event to support the ANCHOR Unit and ensure north-east Scotland’s cancer and haematology patients receive the best possible care, treatment and support.

The team, which comprised Scott Mitchell, Michael and Claire Fotheringham, Graeme and Emma Tallis, Hugh Robertson, Alex Hall, Karen Campbell and Mick McGrath, all dressed in superhero costumes to complete the course and scored the winning points total on the Saturday competition against 27 other teams.

Each of the twelve games involved teams tackling obstacles and inflatables in a bid to score as many points as possible.

Mr Michael Fotheringham, who is a partner at James Milne Chartered Accountants, helped the team achieve their success and said they were inspired to raise money for the charity in recognition of what it has done to help a good friend.

He said:

“One of our friends, Yvonne Mitchell, is undergoing treatment for cancer and during her time in hospital she received a huge amount of support from Friends of ANCHOR. We decided to enter a team for ANCHOR Wipeout and were determined to raise as much as possible for this fantastic charity.

“Tackling the course was great fun and we must have made for a colourful sight in our superhero outfits. We scored the most points on the day which was a great feeling to end the day. The team would like to thank everyone who sponsored us to take part in the ANCHOR Wipeout, every penny counts to help people across the north-east.”

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Mar 052015

duthie-park-bandstand-featWith thanks to Dave Macdermid.

Alan Amoore is the new Chairman of the Friends of Duthie Park, replacing Tony Dawson, who stepped down after seven years in the role at this week’s AGM of the group.

Tony, who has had the Dawson Beech planted within the park in recognition of the work he has done, will retain his links with the group, having been appointed to the role of Honorary President.

This year’s Friends of Duthie Park Open Day will take place on Sunday 16th August.

Aug 152014

duthiebandstandWith thanks to Dave Macdermid.

Organisers of this weekend’s Friends of Duthie Park Open Day, sponsored by A-FAB, have been boosted with the news that Clydelink, the company that operates pedalos and canoes on behalf of Aberdeen City Council, is offering the attractions for free during the course of Sunday’s event.

Tony Dawson, Chairman of the Friends, believes the gesture will all but guarantee that last year’s attendance figure of just over 6,000 will be surpassed this time round.

“When the pedalos were reintroduced last summer, demand was fantastic and the fact that, along with the canoes, they will be free for the duration of our open day. We will also be offering rickshaw rides round the park I’m sure they will also be extremely popular.

“The park is looking stunning right now and, with so much going on this Sunday, all we need now is the weather to make it another day to remember.”

Among the other attractions at this year’s FODP Open Day (www.friendsofduthiepark.co.uk), which runs from noon until 4 pm on Sunday (17th August), are The Bon Accord Silver band, piper Calum Lawrie, Bokwa with Jodie, Zumba & powerhoops with Elma, The Sharon Gill School of Dancing, Wrestlezone Scotland, The Airyhall Dancers, AFC in the Community, British Military Fitness, First Aberdeen vintage vehicles, various kiddies rides, the canoes and, the one and only, Spike the Talking Cactus.

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Aug 232013

To a background of calls for those sympathetic to the preservation and enhancement of Union Terrace Gardens to be extra-vigilant as the Wood Family Trust’s 12-month deadline for withdrawal of its strings-attached £55m ‘donation’ to ‘city centre transformation’ approached, a predictable and transparently-concerted campaign, backed by increasingly-vocal local press coverage has emerged.

Our democratically-elected representatives now appear to be under renewed pressure to reconsider their decision to take a prudent approach to financial risk and publish imminently alternative and affordable plans for city centre regeneration. ‘Stand firm’ seems to be the message from the Friends of Union Terrace Gardens. Thanks to Robin McIntosh.

Union Terrace Gardens are an emerald jewel in Aberdeen’s civic crown, and part of the city’s proud Common Good heritage.

When the Victorian public toilets were closed in the 1990s, the Gardens entered a period of ‘managed decline’ with virtually no capital expenditure attributed to them. The last five year period has seen a variety of groups comment on the potential of UTG, motivated by their particular opinions on what is best for Aberdeen.

The result has been further degradation of the park, its suitability for events and its facilities as we await a resolution on the future of this publicly-owned green space.

The Friends of UTG group has compiled a wide range of transformational and evolutionary ideas from its membership and has presented its Vision and Proposals to the council for consideration.

The cost of delivering these membership-originated projects will be but a fraction of the predicted £140m cost of the City Gardens Project, and the benefits of evolutionary change to the ‘feel’ of our city centre are clear.

Robin McIntosh, Chair of the Friends of UTG, said:

It is now vital that we move forward in the spirit of Bon Accord (good agreement), and undertake a full sympathetic restoration of this green heart in our Granite City. A modern society requires a combination of history, culture and facilities, and we must find the funds to deliver this for Union Terrace Gardens, in the same way that we have for the outstanding Duthie Park.

“The Friends have already delivered some minor, but sustainable improvements – building nesting boxes and planting a Spring Walk and a Flanders Field poppy field for the WW1 Centenary in 2014. 

“Larger capital projects will obviously require greater investment, and we are committed to continuing to work closely with the council, senior members of the administration, and any other interested parties, to secure finance to deliver a Garden with civic pride at its very heart. 

“Our aim is to achieve the best possible outcome for the people of Aberdeen – improvements that are both affordable and which will allow the Gardens to remain in public ownership.”

FoUTG’s blog outlines its proposals and gives current news updates http://friendsofutg.com/

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Mar 142013

With thanks to Dave Macdermid

One of the objectives of the ongoing DuthiePark restoration project is to create, in conjunction with the Park Ranger Service, a natural wildlife area with frogs, ducks and swans which, it is hoped, will attract a variety of new visitors to the park can also be utilised for school projects.

To assist in this becoming a reality, the Friends of Duthie Park and Aberdeen Greenspace have organised for the Middle Lake to be planted with natural Scottish wildlife plants this Sunday, 17th March and are seeking volunteers to help with this exercise.

Duthie Park Outreach & Training Officer Arthur Gill commented:

“Members of the public are invited to join us on Sunday for what will be a different type of planting than that we normally tackle.  

“It will be muddy so wellington boots are a necessity.”

Anyone interested in assisting should come to the Middle Lake at noon this Sunday.  All ages are welcome!

Oct 182012

By Mike Shepherd.

The City Garden Project is effectively dead and although Sir Ian Wood has left his offer of £50 million investment on the table for another year, his project is now unlikely to go ahead.

The final blow came with the publication of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request that showed that politicians in the Scottish government had tampered with the rankings of TIF (Tax Increment Funding) applications made by Scottish councils.

The Aberdeen TIF was ranked a lowly tenth out of sixteen, but was then moved into the top six – a placing that would qualify the project for government sanction.

This furtive move has finally destroyed whatever credibility was left for the City Garden as a TIF project and the FOI documents also reveal the Aberdeen business case as dubious.

So, while it is unlikely that there will be any future attempt to bulldoze through a City Garden Project TIF, if there is, it will be shouted down as foul play.

Additionally, councils elsewhere in Scotland are hacked off with the Scottish government as the TIF ranking process was supposed to be objective – as befits a process allocating multi-million pound infrastructure spending in Scotland – but wasn’t.

The message is clear – Union Terrace Gardens have been saved!

There is an unreal air about this as I’m not sure many people really believe that the park has survived, yet it has.  There are several factors that have led to a lack of belief, let alone euphoria, on the issue.

The relentless juggernaut of the City Garden Project has been rolling for almost four years, supported by the rich and powerful, together with local and national governments and the Aberdeen press.  So the fact that it appears to have just ‘evaporated’ overnight seems incredible, but that’s exactly what has happened.

The August 22nd council vote rejected the City Garden Project and the current council administration are determined to stick to the decision.

This is the power of participative democracy in action.  An interest group tried to boss through the project by all means possible and met up with the checks and balances of a democracy that we should all be extremely thankful for.

We now move forward with a future for Union Terrace Gardens. The status quo is not an option.

The Gardens need tender loving care to restore them to their former glory and to get them back to a fully functioning park.  It won’t take much to kick this off, but it does need to be done.

This was the theme at the AGM of the Friends of Union Terrace Gardens held in the Belmont Cinema last Saturday.

The AGM marked a pivotal moment for the Friends group as it signifies the transition from a campaign phase to one where we can adopt a protective and proactive role for Union Terrace Gardens.  This role will be similar to that adopted by the Friends of Duthie Park in which the council manage the day to day running of Duthie Park while the Friends act to raise funds – they have raised several million pounds – and make improvements to the park.

In my last speech as chairman I announced that we have been asked by the council administration to make a proposal outlining what we would like to see happen in the park.  This would be much more than a wish list.  We would intend the programme to advise on the improvements and features that the park needs, together with indicative costs and a strategy for fund raising.

We held a general discussion amongst our membership as to what they thought was needed to improve the park and, unsurprisingly, better toilets and easier access came top of the list with everything else being open to further discussion.

I did not stand for re-election as Chair as I felt that someone with a less divisive reputation needs to take the group forward in its new role.  I also need a break, as the past few years have been somewhat hectic, although I will stay on the committee.

We have a new chairwoman, Robin McIntosh, who is the perfect choice as she is an expert on facilitation skills.  Skills that she will get the chance to use to best advantage before long.

In her closing message at the AGM Robin said:

“We want to make it clear that the future of the Gardens is in the community’s hands, that the decisions we are going to make will be to please the people.  These are exciting times for Friends of UTG and I am looking forward to a year of progress; big and small.  The city centre’s green heart deserves to be loved and used, and we are going to help to do this.”

The people of Aberdeen have saved Union Terrace Gardens.  This is only the beginning.  We can now go forward and restore our park to its full glory.  A park that is the pride of Aberdeen!

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Aug 172012

The BiG Partnership’s Dave Macdermid advises Aberdeen Voice readers on the upcoming open day and other developments.

Friends of Duthie Park host their second Open Day this Sunday having received a boost with financial support from influential local group ‘Aberdeen 1st’.

Commenting on the support, Friends Chairman Tony Dawson said:

 “While many of entertainers are giving their time for free on Sunday, it does cost a fair bit to stage an event such as this as we are so grateful to Aberdeen 1st for this wonderful gesture. Sunday will be a fantastic day and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the weather will be kind to us.”

Aberdeen 1st’s Jeanette Forbes added.

 “Aberdeen 1st is delighted to support the Friends of Duthie Park open day this Sunday.

“All those involved in Aberdeen 1st are determined to encourage the residents of Aberdeen to take pride in this wonderful City.  The work going on in Duthie Park at the moment will bring this area up to a tremendous quality which will be enjoyed by all in the future”

Sunday will see festivities running between 12 noon and 4 pm with musical entertainment from The Twa Pipers, Megan McQueen, and Leanne and Estrella,  plus horse and cart rides, football coaching with AFC, fitness demonstrations, children’s entertainment, gardening workshops and many other stalls and attractions.

‘Spike’ the talking cactus, the park’s most popular resident, will be there too, following his reappearance at last year’s open day after being absent for a decade.

Further information from:-


Jul 262012

With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

The Friends of Duthie Park group is looking for a part time fundraiser to assist with ongoing funding to improve the park, following the completion of the current major restoration work.

This will see the return of many original Victorian elements.

As ‘Friends’ Chairman Tony Dawson outlines, there are potentially some tremendous opportunities for local organisations within the confines of the Park.

 “There are specific projects that do not come within the remit of the restoration work, including both winter and summer planting. Additionally there are initiatives we would love to be able to afford, such as the installation of a water harvesting system for the glasshouses, or the development of a Duthie Park smart phone application. The Friends also has its Annual Open Day which would, I believe, be an excellent community ‘fit’ for a local company, with this year’s event next month on Sunday 19th August.

“We have produced a selection of potential packages that could be available and what we are looking for is someone who could spend time speaking to local businesses persuading them to become involved, in return for a commission on any funds secured.”

Anyone interested in the position should, in the first instance, contact info@friendsofduthiepark.co.uk including full contact details.

Jul 122012

With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

Major restoration work that will see the return of many original Victorian elements to the North East’s most popular visitor attraction is progressing on schedule. And the ‘Friends of Duthie Park’ group is hosting its second open day next month.

Sunday 19th August will see festivities running between noon and 4 p.m.

As Friends Chairman Tony Dawson explains, there will be something for all of the family.

“Last year’s inaugural event attracted more than two thousand people and we will be looking to go one better this time around! I think most people are aware that there are major works going on at the park, without necessarily knowing the details. This will be an opportunity to see at first hand the progress that is being made as we’ll be organising tours during the afternoon.

“In addition, we’ll have plenty of entertainment, including live music throughout the afternoon, horse and cart rides, football coaching with AFC, fitness demonstrations, children’s entertainment, gardening workshops and many other stalls and attractions.

“And of course ‘Spike’ the talking cactus, the park’s most popular resident will be there too, after making his reappearance after a decade at last year’s open day.”

A full timetable for the day will be available on www.friendsofduthiepark.co.uk from the beginning of August.

For information contact Dave Macdermid on 07805 436988. dave.macdermid@bigpartnership.co.uk